Herbs provide more than just flavour enhancers to our culinary dishes, they enrich our overall well-being.
Today we think of herbs as culinary flavouring agents and they are essential to any good cook. They are almost as essential to any gardener, being amongst the easiest food plants to grow. Many herbs are perennial and are fairly easy to grow, making them perfect for beginner gardeners.
Herbs are plants which can fit into almost any garden design – ornamental, formal or edible. They can be used in so many different ways in the garden as well as in the kitchen.
Think rosemary hedge or parsley border, or let chives and basil flower prettily in the cottage garden. But they are also all highly medicinal. Nowadays we don’t all appreciate the medicinal value of our gardens the way we have throughout history, but as we look to our food as the main vector of our health, and turn to growing our own organic vegetables to that end, herbs play a very natural role in the food as medicine movement.
Even just this handful of favourites can do us the world of good. Recent research has suggested that rosemary may be highly beneficial in protecting the brain from the bombardment of radiation that is part of modern life, and may also help protect from dementia. This certainly fits with rosemary’s long standing use as the memory herb. It is not just that rosemary grows well at Gallipoli that gives us the association with ANZAC day, rosemary has been the herb of remembrance throughout history.
Parsley has long been used as a breath freshener. It has a very high vitamin C and chlorophyll content and is valued as a detoxifier and blood builder.
Sage contains powerful antioxidants and has long been valued for bringing good health. A sage gargle is valuable for sore throats.
Thyme has strong antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is soothing on the stomach and helps digestion and helps fight stubborn coughs.
Basil too has many medicinal uses to mention. It is a well known adaptogen which means it strengthens the immune system and helps the body cope with stress while enhancing disease resistance.
Chives are valuable for stimulating digestive juices and can help combat high blood pressure. How to grow chives in pots.
Oregano is soothing to the digestive system and helps with digestion, making it the perfect accompaniment to heavy red meat dishes.
These plants are also popular with bees and beneficial insects if we let them flower, they release lovely smells as we brush past them and they look great in the garden. What more reason do we need to grow these and many more herbs?
Most states have a local herb society where you can become involved and learn about herbs in the company of other herb enthusiasts. The Queensland Herb Society is one such organisation. Much information, including how to purchase their locally produced books on growing and cooking herbs, can be found on their website www.qhs.com.au.
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